Vanderbilt stays hot, upends Wake in Maui semis

LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) Vanderbilt has reached the championship game of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational without really being tested.

Wade Baldwin IV and Damian Jones both scored 17 points, and the No. 19 Commodores used their size, depth and shooting to beat Wake Forest 86-64 on Tuesday night.

”I thought that our guys played, again, very inspired,” Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. ”But I thought fatigue might have played a little bit of a part in that game. I thought maybe our team being a little deeper than theirs had an impact. They made a great run after we ran on them at the beginning. They made a great run to get back in the game.

”Then I thought from that point forward we were able to establish control and never really relinquish it. … I like how we’re playing.”

What coach wouldn’t?

Jones, who grabbed 10 rebounds, was 6 for 10 from the field and Baldwin was ever better at 6 for 8. The Commodores were never threatened in the second half and led by as many as 24 points.

Vanderbilt (5-0) will play the winner of the game between No. 5 Kansas and UCLA for the championship on Wednesday.

”It would be huge for us going into the season, having that under our belt,” Jones said. ”It would really help our confidence going into conference play.”

The game couldn’t have started much worse for Wake Forest (3-2). While Vanderbilt was opening 9 of 13 from the field, the Demon Deacons missed 12 of their first 13 shots. That amounted to a 21-5 lead for the Commodores, who beat St. John’s 92-55 in the first round.

Wake Forest was able to get within 30-24 with 6 minutes left in the first half, but Vanderbilt went on a 10-0 run that was started and ended by Jones scoring inside. The Commodores stayed comfortably in front this time and led 43-28 at halftime.

”Vanderbilt came out and delivered the first couple blows, and we didn’t respond well,” Wake Forest coach Danny Manning said. ”From that point on, we played catch-up. … They shoot the ball exceptionally well.

”We didn’t do enough things to prevent them from having the night that they had. I thought in spurts we did some things, but over the course of the ballgame we have to do a much better job defensively. But they played a very good ballgame.”

Jeff Roberson had 10 points and seven rebounds for Vanderbilt, and Riley LaChance had nine points and six assists.

Jones had five points and five rebounds in 14 foul-plagued minutes against St. John’s. He had an easy explanation for his improvement from one game to the next.

”Stayed out of foul trouble,” he said.

Freshman point guard Bryant Crawford, who had the winning basket in the closing seconds of the first-round win over No. 13 Indiana, led the Demon Deacons with 15 points. John Collins scored 14 and Devin Thomas added 13.

”They had length so when I drive, I either have to adjust my shot or I had to find the next open guy,” Crawford said.

Vanderbilt: The Commodores had 12 players score against St. John’s. … Jones had five points and five rebounds in 14 minutes against St. John’s. … The Commodores shot 49.2 percent (31 of 63), including 7 of 17 from 3-point range (41.2 percent). … Vanderbilt’s only title in the Maui Invitational came in 1986 with Will Perdue at center.

Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons came into the game with five players averaging in double figures. They have five players in double figures in the last two games, the first time they did that since 2006-07. … Wake Forest had at least a plus-10 rebound advantage in its first four games, the first time it had done that since the first six games of 1997-98 when Tim Duncan was at center. The Commodores ended that streak by out-rebounding the Demon Deacons 43-37. … The win over No. 13 Indiana was Wake Forest’s first over a ranked team since March 5, 2014, against No. 4 Duke, and its first outside Winston-Salem since beating No. 4 North Carolina on Jan. 20, 2010.

Vanderbilt plays the winner of No. 5 Kansas-UCLA for the title on Wednesday.

Wake Forest plays the loser of No. 5 Kansas-UCLA for third place on Wednesday.